Each Tuesday of the NFL season NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang will identify his Rookie of the Week. To qualify, the first-year professional player must have played a significant role in a competitive NFL game, demonstrating not just flashes of talent but the potential to emerge as a legitimate long-term standout. The player's draft status - whether as a former first round pick or undrafted free agent - does not apply.
NFL Rookie of Week One: Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins
The 2013 draft class was largely characterized as one lacking in talent at the so-called skill positions. Only one quarterback was selected in the first round. Not a single running back made the top frame - the first time that's occurred in 50 years.
This didn't extend into Week Two of the NFL season among wide receivers, however. St. Louis Rams' wideout Tavon Austin caught six passes for 47 yards and two scores in a close loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Another first round wideout, Cordarrelle Patterson, did his damage as a kick returner, racking up 149 yards for the Minnesota Vikings, including one a 105-yard touchdown jaunt against the rival Chicago Bears.
It was the "other" first round receiver however, that shined brightest Sunday.
Taking over as the Houston Texans' primary pass-catcher with star Andre Johnson sidelined with a possible concussion, Hopkins caught the game-winning touchdown in overtime to push his club past the upstart Tennessee Titans.
While Hopkins' touchdown was certainly his most important play of the game, it wasn't his only contribution to the 2-0 Texans' win. In fact, with catches on three consecutive plays (for 64 yards) during the Texans' game-winning drive, the rookie was seemingly everywhere when it mattered most.
The traits that had scouts most excited about Hopkins when he left Clemson early for the 2013 NFL draft were his size (6-1, 214), toughness and ability to high-point passes. Hopkins demonstrated each of these traits in Sunday's win over the Titans, fighting through coverage from gritty cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner to haul in seven passes for 118 yards and the touchdown.
The final three receptions Hopkins made in this contest were his most impressive. In each case, he lined up against bump and run coverage and showed the strength, leaping ability and hand-eye coordination to simply out-will the defender for a tightly-contested ball. The first two grabs came down the right sideline on simple vertical routes for gains of 28 and 25-yards, respectively. He then capped off the performance with a quick-out for a three-yard touchdown to win the game.
The Texans travel to Baltimore this week to play the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.
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